When you know, you know.
Those were the words in a round-a-bout way for New Franklin junior Cassie Armentrout after hitting a three with 29 seconds left to lead the Lady Bulldogs past Scotland County 36-34 Saturday in a Class 2 quarterfinal game at Moberly Area Community College.
While making its first Final Four appearance since 2014, where they placed third, the Lady Bulldogs will now advance to the semifinal round on Thursday, March 10th at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. New Franklin, 22-7, will take on Neelyville, 24-4, in the first of two semifinal games starting at 6:40 p.m.
Neelyville advanced to Final Four by beating Clopton on Saturday by a score of 46-32.
In the other semifinal round matchup, Crane (30-1) will take on Skyline (27-4) at 8:20 p.m.
New Franklin coach Ryan Lyons said this win was unbelievable.
“We got down 10-2 right off the bat and then I called timeout and things settled down and we took a one-point lead at the halftime break at 15-14,” Lyons said. “It was a real defensive battle. Then once again Scotland County made a run late in the third quarter and we found ourselves in all too familiar territory playing from behind in the fourth quarter. With about four minutes left, we were down by seven and I called another timeout and asked my team to calm down and do what we’d done so many times before the season: not give up and face things one possession at a time.
“Then, Cassie Armentrout and Grace Hundley hit three huge three-point shots (two and one, respectively) and we found ourselves right back in the ballgame. We managed to take a one-point lead and then hit a late free throw to hold on for the most exciting victory of the season for us. We get to play in the Final Four and live out a dream come true. This group of girls continues to show me that they will always give their best and compete to the end.”
Although the Lady Bulldogs will be advancing to their fourth state semifinal appearance in program history, it’s safe to say it didn’t look good early on as Scotland County took a 10-2 early in the opening quarter.
However over the final three minutes and nine seconds, New Franklin turned it up a notch defensively by holding Scotland County scoreless while reeling off eight straight, which included 1 of 3 free throws by Grace Hundley, who was fouled at the buzzer to tie the game at 10-all.
The Lady Bulldogs then went on a lockdown in the second quarter while holding Scotland County to just four points to lead at the break by one at 15-14. New Franklin and Scotland County were also tied at 12-12 in the period after combining for just four points for the first-five minutes.
Of course that would all change in the third quarter as Scotland County began to find the basket a little more to lead New Franklin by seven at 26-19 with 1:20 left.
However after shooting nearly 17 fewer shots in the game and turning the ball over 18 times compared to just eight for Scotland County, the Lady Bulldogs still found themselves very much in the thick of things down by only six at 28-22.
Scotland County also outscored New Franklin 14-7 in the third period.
But even that was short-lived as the Lady Bulldogs found a way by tying the game at 30-all with 4:30 left in the fourth after a 8-2 run. Then, after playing to a 32-32 tie with 1:55 left, Scotland County took the lead at 34-32 with less than a minute to play.
The Lady Tigers never led again after that as Armentrout came back with her career-high fourth three-pointer with 29 seconds left to put New Franklin up by one at 35-34. Then, after a costly turnover by Scotland County, sophomore Madison Matney came back to hit 1 of 2 free throws to seal the victory with nine seconds left.
While scoring all 12 points from the three-point arc, Armentrout also finished the game with two rebounds and one assist.
Matney chipped in nine points, nine rebounds and four steals while Grace Hundley added six points and five rebounds, Jasmine Himmelberg with four points and four rebounds, Molly Lyons with three points, two rebounds and two assists and Kacie White with two points and one steal.
New Franklin also finished the game hitting 13 of 32 shots from the field for 41 percent and 4 of 10 from the foul line for 40 percent.
For Scotland County, Calesse Bair had 11 and Abi Feeney with 10.